Over the break, I read Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton. Almost every page left me thinking, "Yes, this is how life should be! Relaxed, meaningful, steady."
But relaxation, meaning and steadiness don't simply show up. We must engage them in a courtship. Spend time alone. Take care of our bodies and souls.
Of course Barton spends a whole book on this topic, but one of my favorite parts was her discussion of taking care of our bodies. "It can be hard and humbling," she says, "to pay attention to your body, whatever state it is in, because it brings you face to face with your finiteness, your vulnerability." (p.64) But we should pay attention. After all, as she quotes from Dorothy Bass...
As the place where the divine Presence dwells, our bodies are worthy of care and blessing and ought never to be degraded or exploited. It is through our bodies that we participate in God's activity in the world. (p.66)
To assist us in beginning to take care, Barton ends by offering a "practice", which I think is worth sharing here...
Take three deep, slow breaths— long inhalations as well as exhalations. Close your eyes... [rest] openly and simply in God's presence for a few moments. Notice how things are with your body these days. What feels tired? What feels energized? What hurts or aches or feels tight? What feels good and strong and well? Does your body feel loved and cared for or unbalanced and abused? (p.68-69)
After this, she simply suggests that we accept whatever gift we might need. Rest. A walk. Or just sitting down and continuing to relish in God's presence. Whatever. Yes, whatever we need to do... to take care.
Amber Field photo art by J Barkat. Used with permission. Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.
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